Video Games By Prescription Continue Developing


“Is this the future of medicine?” asks Stephen Armstrong in the British Medical Journal. “Little Artie has been left at the doorstep of his grandma’s house—a spooky mansion filled with shadows. His grandma has been taken, and only he can save her. As he moves through corridors and darkened rooms, terrifying shapes loom above him. His only friend is Teru the Magical Hat, who shines more brightly the calmer Artie becomes. If Artie panics, however, Teru dims and the darkness grows.”

“This is MindLight, a haunted house computer game aimed at teaching relaxation techniques to anxious children.” Armstrong describes MindLight as “the leading edge of the so-called gamification of healthcare — Silicon Valley’s attempt to join the medical profession.” The MindLight website includes a 26-minute video interview with MindLight co-creator Radboud University’s Isabela Granic.

FIU News recently reported on a study of a similar kind of computer-based training tool that “seems more like a video game to kids than therapy.” Publishing earlier this year in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, the researchers found that, “Child self-ratings on anxiety symptoms and depressive symptoms significantly decreased from pretreatment to posttreatment, as did parent ratings on child anxiety-related impairment.”

Video games on prescription (Armstrong, Stephen. British Medical Journal. September 15, 2014. doi:


Researchers use computer-based treatment for children with anxiety (FIU News, July 31, 2014)

Attention Bias Modification Treatment for children with anxiety disorders who do not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy: a case series (Bechora, Michele et al. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. March 2014. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2013.09.001)


  1. The concept of scaring kids into relaxing seems a bit counterintuitive, to say the least, but, “Honey, make sure to play your video games before you leave for school!” sounds a hell of a lot better than, “Honey, make sure you take your Xanax before you leave for school!”

    Report comment